Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met on Tuesday with the leader of the dissident Syrian National Council (SNC), Burhan Ghalioun, in a landmark move towards a peaceful settlement in Syria.
Lavrov met with Ghalioun, a Paris-based academic, to deliver the Russian position “about the necessity of a constructive approach towards solving issues that Syria is faced with and carrying out reforms,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The talks were fruitful and beneficial,” Ghalioun said after the meeting, adding however that “the idea of recognizing the National Council was not discussed, but the Russian side has expressed its readiness to continue talks with the council.”
The opposition leader also said all the countries that are interested in a peaceful solution should push for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down since the death toll of the violent crackdown on the opposition has reached 3,500 people so far.
In early September, during talks with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, Lavrov said that the refusal of the Syrian opposition to hold talks with the government meant they were seeking international backing similar to that received by the Libyan rebels.
Lavrov then warned that international support for the Syrian opposition could lead to “new bloodshed” in the country.